CRAFT BEER 101 INTELIGENCER
Guest Blog By Julia Herz and Tiffany Lutke of CraftBeer.com
Is the Growler the Holy Grail of Beer Vessels? You probably love growlers—those refillable containers that transport fresh craft beer from the local brewery or filling station to an even more local location (i.e. your home fridge).
Well, these little beauties are on fire lately. Today the growler is as hot and exposed as an up-and-coming Hollywood star. The media is on board—big time. Here are just a few recent instances of growler popularity:
“Beer Drinkers Celebrate the Summer of the Growler” /Wall Street Journal
“Bottomless beer bottles—where to find growlers in L.A.” / LA Times
“Getting the Most Out of Your Growler” /CraftBeer.com
“What’s Brewing in LA, LA Land?” /Westcoaster Beer Magazine and Website
Some of your favorite big player chains like Whole Foods and Sunoco gas stations are getting in the game via growler filling stations. Locally, the more than 2,800 brewpubs and brewery tap rooms in America are responsible for fueling this frenzy.
Back to the question of the day. Are growlers really the holy grail of beer vessels?
Some would say yes, and some would say no, but no one can deny that beer geeks and breweries are ga-ga over growlers. Yes, my friends, growlers are good! They bring us straight to the source of fresh craft beer, which helps us reduce a beer’s footprint (a common theme in the craft beer world) by being both refillable and, sometimes, recyclable.
That said, spoiler alert: Not all states allow growler sales under a retailer license, and not all brewpubs are allowed to sell growlers on site. Don’t worry, beer activists around the country are working to update laws across the board to make growlers more accessible.
Growler 101: Care and Filling of Growlers.
--To best preserve fresh draught beer flavor ask your retailer how they fill growlers. Fill tubes are better than direct fill, counter pressure filling is even better.
--Filling warm or hot growlers causes foaming. For best results, make sure that your growler is cool or at least room temperature before filling.
--Clear glass growlers (which potentially allows sunlight through) can cause skunking, which can negatively alter the taste of your beer.
--Keep filled growlers cold and dark. Do not leave a filled growler in your car on a hot or very cold day.
--It’s just fact: the beer is never as fresh and carbonated once opened.
--When finished, be sure to rinse your growler well with warm water so it’s clean for the next fill.
--Also, some jurisdictions may not allow breweries to fill other breweries growlers, which is a concern that is being checked into, for example, in Southern California
West Coaster Beer Magazine in San Diego and Los Angeles covered this issue in depth: http://www.westcoastersd.com/2013/05/20/whats-brewing-in-la-la-land/
--Growlers are fragile, so don’t drop them!
Bucket of Beer—As late as the Depression era, beer was often carted from breweries to home or coal mines in covered buckets. This blog’s father recalled being a bucket boy, who carried a notched pole of beer buckets from Pittsburgh area saloons to greet his father and buddies after a day in the coal mines. The beer buckets were also called berry buckets.
The Name—Jess Kidden writing for bottles.net points out “...while the origins of the "Growler" term is much in dispute on breweriana and etymology sites, some contemporary sources suggest that it was the constant conflict between the two parties - the bartender who's filling atwo quart pail with a pint of beer - and the customer looking for a full pail- which caused the "growling".
History of Growlers—Here’s an online article giving an indepth look at the history of the Growler in the U.S. http://www.bottless.net/The_History_of_The_Beer_Growler_s/605.htm